The Common Man Speaks

30Jan/130

Phalke’s magic recreated on big screen!

Indian cinema took birth a hundred years ago when Dhundiraj Govind Phalke’s Raja Harishchandra was released in May 1913 at Mumbai’s (then Bombay) Coronation Theater. The film was a result of some painstaking efforts by Dadasaheb Phalke, due to which he acquired the title - Father of Indian Cinema. Now, almost a hundred years later, the magic of Phalke’s earliest films was recreated on the big screen recently at Mumbai’s National Center for Performing Arts (NCPA).

Raja-Harishchandra-movieA group of audience that had gathered was bestowed with a memorable experience of watching Phalke’s Raja Harishchandra (1917), Kaliya Mardan (1919), Lanka Dahan (1917), Shri Krishna Janma (1918) and a documentary on him named Dream Takes Wings (1970).  Composer Rahul Ranade’s background score was added to the films to make viewing more pleasurable for people of today’s era who aren’t used to watching silent films. The screening was made possible by the National Film Archives of India (NFAI) based in Pune. The event was a part of NCPA Flashback Series which is started to celebrate 100 years of Indian Cinema.

Veteran filmmaker Shyam Benagal, who was the guest of honor at the event, seemed pretty excited for the screenings. “It’s a pleasure to see Phalke’s films. His (Raja Harishchandra) was the first film to be made completely in India. So it is Phalke who is responsible for spreading cinema in India,” he said. Benegal also revealed how quickly cinema got acceptance in India. “After the introduction of sound (talkies), Indian cinema just took off as if it was invented here.”

Shyam-BenegalBy going back to the pre-independence time, Benegal also criticized the need for films to be censored. “British Government used to ban films that had nationalist sentiments. Unfortunately, even 66 years after independence, films are still censored, which, I think, is ridiculous in a democracy.”

Director of NFA Prashant Pathrabe shared some good news for the audience. He said screening of more of such classic films under NCPA Flashback Series would take place at the end of every month at NCPA for the next year. “We would love to take our association with NCPA forward,” he said.

Some of the films that would be shown in the upcoming NCPA Flashback Series include Sant Tukaram (Marathi, 1936), Sikandar (Hindi, 1941), Achhut Kanya (Hindi, 1936), Manthan (Hindi, 1976), Devdas (Bengali, 1935), Chandralekha (Tamil, 1948), etc.

So if you are lover of quality cinema, you know where you should be heading at the end of each month!

To receive updates on the upcoming screenings, visit - http://www.ncpamumbai.com/
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https://www.facebook.com/NCPAMumbai
Twitter page - https://twitter.com/ncpamumbai

25Jan/132

Race 2 Review

Direction: Abbas-Mustan

Producers: Tips Music Films and UTV Motion Pictures

Writers: Shiraz Ahmed and Kiran Kotrial

Cast: Saif Ali Khan, John Abraham, Anil Kapoor, Deepika Padukone, Jacqueline Fernandez, Amisha Patel

Music: Pritam

Genre: Thriller

Rating: * ½

Story Outline: After amassing abnormal amount of wealth through crook, multi-millionaire Arman Malik (John Abraham) is enjoying the luxuries of Europe with his step sister Alina (Deepika Padukone) and girlfriend Onisha (Jacqueline Fernandez). This is when Ranvir Singh (Saif Ali Khan) enters his life. Through some illegal ideas, Ranvir helps Arman add up to his already colossal wealth. But why is Ranvir doing such favors on Arman? Meanwhile, cop-turned-casino-owner Robert D’Costa provides all the support to Ranvir but is he really on his side?

Review: Abbas-Mustan’s Race 2 reminded me of the old phrase ‘Jana Tha Japan Pohoch Gaye Cheen (China)’. Although the intention of the makers might have been to make a sequel to the impressive thrilling ride Race (2008) but knowingly or unknowingly the director duo ends up making a sequel to their last film Players (2012). Second movie in the line of Players… Need I say more?

Race 2 has almost everything needed for a racy thriller – mind-blowing action sequences, exotic locations, thrilling chases, twists and turns, lots of style, expensive cars, choppers and some foot-tapping music. So what went wrong? Well, I did mention the word ‘almost’ in the second last sentence which was used for the most important thing – s-c-r-i-p-t!

Race-2The problem with the writing is that the story doesn’t unfold at a good pace as a lot of footage is given to some unconvincing, lame sequences and, of course, lots of glamour (read: cleavage and thighs). And when the story does move forward, it mostly produces twists that are not only predictable miles back, but also unintentionally hilarious. An example of just taking the genre and the audience for granted! The disgustingly cheap conversations between Anil and Ameesha’s characters truly deserve special mention!

To its credit, the film does have few things going though. Some chase sequences and stunts are out of the ordinary. The camerawork (Ravi Yadav), background score and some super-stylish editing also deserve praise. Pritam has come up with some good tracks (hoping they are original), although the songs are forcibly placed!

Saif Ali Khan pulls of the character of Ranvir Singh quite well but this time he isn’t as convincing and powerful as he was in the 2008 movie. John Abraham shows a lot of style but acting-wise, he is pretty average. A talented as well as experienced actor like Anil Kapoor is simply wasted! It was also disturbing to see his character indulge in such cheapness!

Deepika Padukone and Jacqueline Fernandez are just used to expose their toned bodies forcefully! Although, acting-wise, the former is okay, the latter is simply poor! Lastly, there is Ameesha Patel who gives one of the most irritating performances in recent years!

Overall, while the two main characters in Race 2 are constantly trying to fool each other, it is the audience which ultimately gets fooled. Due to some hype, the film might get a decent opening but it will struggle at the box office once the word spreads.

24Jan/130

Akaash Vani Box Office Prediction

Direction: Luv Ranjan

Producers: Wide Frame Pictures

Writer: Luv Ranjan

Cast: Kartik Tiwari, Nushrat Bharucha

Music: Hitesh Sonic

Genre: Romance

Release Date: January 25, 2013

Analysis:

Star Value: As the lead actors of Akaash Vani Kartik Tiwari and Nushrat Bharucha are just one film old, there is no star value in the movie. However, the fact that the full team of the well appreciated Pyaar Ka Punchnama has returned can be considered its star value.

Hype: The promos of the movie have garnered a decent response, if not very good. The promotions and marketing hasn’t been bad. Overall, the hype and excitement for Akaash Vani is above average.

Music: The film has good, melodious numbers but apart from ‘Rumani’ no other song is much known to the masses. The music has a better chance if the film succeeds at the box-office.

Prediction:

Akaash Vani will get an average opening at the box office. Its chances rely more in the multiplexes of the metros. It will struggle in the single screens and smaller centers. The fact that it will be released alongside a hardcore commercial film like Race 2 will surely affect its business. Hence, it is vital for Akaash Vani to get very positive initial reports.

But one should also note that this is a kind of film which doesn’t rely on the collections of the first three days. If it manages to impress the audience initially, especially the youngsters, it can even pick up during the weekdays and the next weekend as there is no major release next week.

Akaash-Vani

24Jan/130

Race 2 Box Office Prediction

Direction: Abbas-Mustan

Producers: Tips Music Films and UTV Motion Pictures

Writers: Shiraz Ahmed and Kiran Kotrial

Cast: Saif Ali Khan, John Abraham, Anil Kapoor, Deepika Padukone, Jacqueline Fernandez, Amisha Patel

Music: Pritam

Genre: Thriller

Release Date: January 25, 2013

Analysis:

Star Value: With a host of well-known actors like Saif Ali Khan, John Abraham, Anil Kapoor and Deepika Padukone, the star value for Race 2 is obviously high.

Hype: The thrilling and exciting promos have gone well with the audience. The makers have also promoted and marketed the film well. So there is a good amount of hype for Race 2 but it is not as high as the makers would have expected.

Music: The songs ‘Allah Duhai’, ‘Party On My Mind’ and ‘Lat Lag Gayi’ have slowly become popular. The music of Race 2 has played a good role in popularizing the film.

Prediction:

Although not excellent, Race 2 will get a decent to good opening at the box office. Being a western or modern flick, it will fare well in the metros both in single screens and multiplexes, provided it gets good initial response, but its chances are doubtful in the smaller centers.

Although the film will face some mild opposition from Akaash Vani (also releasing on Jan 25), the big advantage it has is that there is no major release next week. However, it will struggle if it doesn’t manage to impress at the onset. And scoring Rs 100 crore, dream of every hardcore commercial product these days, looks doubtful for Race 2.

Race-2

19Jan/133

Pune 52 (Marathi Movie) Review

By: Keyur Seta

Director: Nikhil Mahajan

Producers: IME Motion Pictures and Arbhaat Nirmitee

Writer: Nikhil Mahajan

Cast: Girish Kulkarni, Sonali Kulkarni, Sai Tamhankar

Music: Atif Afzal

Genre: Dramatic Thriller

Rating: * * ½

Story Outline: Working as a private detective in the early 90s, Amar Apte (Girish Kulkarni) struggles to make a living which becomes a reason for his wife Prachi’s (Sonali Kulkarni) constant nagging. Like most of the private detectives, Amar often gets into trouble due to his profession. His life takes an unexpected turn when the beautiful Neha (Sai Tamhankar) offers him the task of unraveling her husband’s extra-marital affair. Unknowingly, Amar gets into the nasty world of seduction and deceit.

(For more reviews, news and information on Marathi cinema, click HERE) (To join us on Facebook, click HERE)

Review: Unconventional cinema can be a welcome break from the usual run-of-the-mill or tried and tested formulas. But there is also a danger of getting carried away by the genre. This is exactly the issue with Nikhil Mahajan’s Pune 52. The film surely has a number of praiseworthy moments to its credit but in trying to be too unconventional, the end result turns out to be not what we expected from it. One should also note that the film suits more to those interested in the film noir genre than the usual masses.

During the initial moments, the unhurried narration (Mahajan) works as it helps the audience get involved in the interesting yet unusual world of Amar, his working style and the issues in his life including his ever-taunting wife. What strikes you instantly is the characterization of Amar which is just like any other common, middle class man rather than a conventional or heroic detective. There is a high degree of smartness shown in the linking of few scenes and some witty dialogues.

Pune-52-Marathi-movieDespite his first movie, Mahajan matches international standards in filming some extraordinary scenes. He should also be lauded for daring to try such a bold subject in Marathi cinema. However, the reason for setting the story in the early 90s is not clearly known.

Later on in the first half, the pace drops down after creating interest. Fortunately, there is an interesting turn in the pre-interval portion and some engaging and humorous moments in the second half. A shocking twist, the most defining moment in this half, raises your expectations for a thrilling culmination but this is where the film starts going downhill. Not only do the events from here on appear unconvincing and confusing, but also the slow pace starts testing your patience. Lastly, the sudden climax doesn’t satisfy you and leaves some important questions unanswered.

The film receives tremendous support from the technical department. Jeremy Reagan, cinematographer from New Zealand, has brilliantly captured the film according to its subject. He even shows his class in his first feature film in the scenes where a hand held camera was required. The same brilliance is acquired by Hyun-jung Shim’s impactful background score. Although the editing (Abhijeet Deshpande) is sleek and sharp, it should have shortened the length of the film. The song ‘Jag Sare Badle’ suits the subject.

The performance of the lead trio is a big plus point. Girish Kulkarni once again proves his versatility by playing a difficult character exceedingly well. He not only succeeds in speaking through his expressions but also impresses in the scenes where he has to shout out of anger. Sonali Kulkarni shows her class as a nagging, middle class housewife.

Sai Tamhankar is remarkable. She produces the subtle sensuality and mystery needed by her character with ease. Bharti Achrekar, Kiran Karmarkar, Shrikant Yadav, Swanand Kirkire and G P Deshpande play their supporting parts well.

Overall, Pune 52 is a bold attempt which could have been much better but for the writing. As the film suits more for the festival audience, its chances at the box-office rely only in the first week due to the hype.

18Jan/130

Inkaar Box Office Prediction

Director: Sudhir Mishra

Producers: Viacom 18 Motion Pictures and Tipping Point Films

Writers: Manoj Tyagi and Sudhir Mishra

Cast: Arjun Rampal, Chitrangada Singh, Deepti Naval, Vipin Sharma, Shivani Tanksale, Rehana Sultan

Music: Shantanu Moitra

Genre: Drama

Release Date: January 18, 2013

Analysis:

Star Value: Arjun Rampal and Chitrangada Singh are not superstars but they are famous enough to push a section of the audience to the theaters. The former has improved his acting skills in recent years while the latter has always given impressive performances.

Hype: The hype for Inkaar is quite good, although only among the urban population due to its subject. The promos have not only impressed the audience but also helped in creating a mystery as to who among the two characters is guilty.

Music: ‘Maula Tu Malik’ has become popular while the other songs, which are also impressive, might slowly find takers if the film becomes a hit.

Prediction:

Inkaar will get an average to decent opening at the box office. Due to the subject and the modern corporate world in which the story is based, it has a chance only in the multiplexes of the metros. It will struggle in single screens and smaller centers. It has only a week to earn as both Race 2 and Akaash Vani are hitting the screens next Friday. Hence, Inkaar has to impress at the onset else it will be difficult for it to succeed at the box office.

Picture Courtesy - Inkaar Facebook page

Picture Courtesy - Inkaar Facebook page

15Jan/130

Pune 52 inspired from real detective: Director

By Keyur Seta

(Taken from the website Halti Chitre.)

Pune 52 is one of the rare Marathi films to have released its first teaser around eight or nine months before the film’s release. Apart from this, the reason for it garnering excitement is due to the fact that it is the story of a detective; a concept not explored much in Marathi cinema. As the movie is finally nearing release after being postponed, the eagerness has only increased due to the actual trailers. Naturally, debutant filmmaker Nikhil Mahajan is keenly looking forward to the response. He gets talking about the actual genre of his movie and the inspiration behind it, among other things.

(For more interviews, news and reviews on Marathi cinema, click HERE). (To join us on Facebook, click HERE.)

How would you describe Pune 52?

Pune 52 is a dramatic thriller. It’s a drama about urban relationships with a very subtle thriller undertone to it. The story is set in the 90’s about a private detective and the fall in his marriage due to another woman. It is set against the backdrop of financial reforms, how it changed the country and how the middle class was affected due to the reform policies. So it’s a personal story of this couple which is the representative of the society at that time.

How did the story idea originate?

I have a very close friend here in Pune whose uncle is a private detective. I met his uncle casually once and we ended up speaking a lot. He told me about his challenging, interesting profession. But what was more interesting was how it affected his personal life. This profession involves going against the law, meeting strange people, working at night and being in the shadow. It is not a very socially acceptable profession. There are multiple issues attached to it.

Girish Kulkarni in Pune 52

Girish Kulkarni in Pune 52

So I thought it would be very interesting to write a poignant drama about a detective. Hence, the story germinated and I slowly started adding layers to it. I worked on it for two years! The thrill element comes in naturally because of the profession. But the movie shouldn’t be mistaken for a thriller which a lot of people are doing. It is not a whodunit or a murder mystery. It’s a film which will get into your skin and make you uncomfortable. But it is not, not, not a conventional thriller!

Along with your film, Hou De Jarasa Ushir is also releasing on January 18. Don’t you think it can be risky for both the films?

No yaar I don’t think so. Both are different films. And when do you release a film? It’s always very crowded. BP (Balak Palak) released on January 4, this week it was Ajinkya, then our film and Hou De Jarasa Ushir are releasing on the 18th and after that, it is Aajcha Divas Majha. So some clash is bound to happen. Plus, Hou De Jarasa Ushir has a completely different genre from our film. So I don’t think both films will eat into each other’s business.

What is your background? How did you become a filmmaker?

I was studying to become an engineer. But I had this crazy passion for films since childhood. I started writing scripts for short films. Then I worked with Ram Gopal Varma’s production house. I assisted people there and even wrote with them. Nothing materialized but that fortified my idea of wanting to be a filmmaker.

Then I realized I need to be professionally trained and versed with the grammar of filmmaking. So I went to Australia and graduated in film direction from The International Film School in Sydney. After returning, I wrote Pune 52 while working as a writer with a company. I started hunting for a producer for my script. It’s been a long journey and struggle. It’s not at all been easy. I faced 40 rejections because of the content and the film not being conventional! Thankfully, I found producers and the film turned out very well.

Your film will also be released outside Maharashtra. How was this possible?

PVR Director’s Rare is a program by PVR Cinemas which releases path-breaking, independent cinema in as many screens as possible. Their idea is to support Indian independent cinema which normally doesn’t have the budget or capability to find a wide release. They might have heard about Pune 52 from those who saw it in MAMI Festival or somewhere else. Their director met me and said they will release the film outside Maharashtra on February 8.

12Jan/130

Historic Event: Swami Vivekananda 150th Birth Anniversary

(Taken from the website - Road to Divinity)

Exactly 150 years ago, when Vishwanath and Bhuvaneshwari Devi Datta were blessed with a son Narendra Nath, who would have thought that this kid would one day shake the world with his philosophies on humanity and fearlessness? As one looks back at the life and teachings of Swami Vivekananda (name adopted by Narendra after becoming a Sanyasi), there is no doubt that his birth was one of the biggest historic events ever!

Heartfelt Namaskar to Swami Vivekananda on his 150th Birth Anniversary

However, just saluting or doing namaskar to him won’t be of any use if we don’t put his divine and spiritual principles into practice in our own lives. Looking at the miserable and anti-spiritual condition of India, following his principles is the only solution to the humongous problems our nation is facing. Doing this isn’t a huge task at all. Even if each one of us follow his teachings even in our personal lives, it will help the nation a great deal. We all know how intensely the fire of patriotism burnt inside Swamiji’s heart. So it is up to us to rejuvenate India as per his dreams and keep his fire of nation building alive.

(Swami Vivekananda’s Birth Anniversary is being celebrated through a number of events. Click HERE to know about them.)

(To read the biography of Swami Vivekananda, click HERE.)

Swami-Vivekananda-religion

11Jan/130

Ajinkya (Marathi Movie) Review

Director: Tejas Vijay Deoskar

Producers: S K Production Films and Sandesh Films International

Writers: Tejas Vijay Deoskar

Cast: Sandeep Kulkarni, Kadambari Kadam, Sarika Nilatkar

Music: Susmit Limaye

Genre: Drama

Rating: * * *

Story Outline: For Basketball coach Anant Dharmadhikar (Sandeep Kulkarni), winning is everything. But his intense passion for Basketball and a sharp ego separate him not only from his wife Sai (Kadambari Kadam), who is highly successful in the corporate world, but also from the game itself. Amidst such dire consequences, will Anant find a ray of hope?

(For more reviews, news and information on Marathi cinema, click HERE) (To join us on Facebook, click HERE)

Review: Winning is the ultimate motto for any team playing whichever sport. But in the midst of winning all the time and maintaining the number one spot, we often forget to enjoy the game both on and off the field. With the use of a story of an egoistic coach, Tejas Vijay Deoskar succeeds in giving this message in Ajinkya in a heartwarming manner. Although the film doesn’t provide as much impact in few portions as needed, the realistic portrayal of the life of a coach and the simplicity make sure it’s worth watching.

The narration is intelligent in the first half. The main point of the story and the character definition of Anant is established right at the start. The way the background is narrated by using flashback in between deserves applause. There is realism induced in every situation which makes the audience feel for the characters. Anant’s interaction with his wife’s friend and his wife after separation deserve special mention. Even his struggle to keep himself away from Basketball is smartly shown without using dialogues, especially in the cupboard shifting scene.

It is the second half which stops the film from becoming superlative. From the start of this part till the climax, there isn’t any real conflict and unpredictability. The story and the message should have been exploited more to create a much bigger impact. It is also in this period that the pace drops a bit. But due to Anant’s subtle return to the game, his change in outlook and a moving climax, you leave the cinema hall with a smile.

In a film where a sport plays an important part, there is a danger of the makers getting carried away by it. Thankfully, that doesn’t happen here. The game of Basketball is used only as per the need. It is also shot in a manner which makes it appealing even to those who aren’t interested in the sport.

The film has received apt support from the cinematography and editing. Although the background music suits the need, there are a lot of portions where they have simply not used it at all! Music wise, ‘Theme of Ajinkya’ and ‘Jari Maza Tuza’ are the tracks that go well with the situations.

Performances are a big plus point. Sandeep Kulkarni perfectly gets into the skin of a tough coach and delivers a top notch performance. He shows his talent in the emotional scenes too. His act is largely responsible for making you feel for his character and the story. Kadambari Kadam is also thoroughly mature as his wife. Sarika Nilatkar provides perfect support while the rest of the actors play their part well.

Overall, Ajinkya doesn’t win by 25 points (as said in the film) but it wins nevertheless. Due to the average hype, it needs some terrific word-of-mouth to succeed at the box-office.

(Personal Note: Recently, me and my friend had the privilege of having a long conversation with a tennis coach. He revealed about his coaching techniques and how his profession has badly affected his personal life. Whatever he told us, matched exactly with Sandeep Kulkarni’s character and his situation in the movie.)

10Jan/130

Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola Box Office Prediction

Direction: Vishal Bhardwaj

Producers: Fox Star Studios and Vishal Bhardwaj Pictures Pvt. Ltd

Writers: Vishal Bhardwaj and Abhishek Chaubey

Cast: Imran Khan, Anushka Sharma, Pankaj Kapoor, Shabana Azmi, Aarya Babbar

Music: Vishal Bhardwaj

Genre: Comedy/ Drama

Release Date: January 11, 2013

Analysis:

Star Value: Imran Khan and Anushka Sharma are not big superstars but they are popular enough to pull a good section of the audience to the theaters, especially youngsters. Plus, Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola also has legends of Indian cinema in the form of Pankaj Kapoor and Shabana Azmi.

Hype: The film has managed a decent hype before its release if not tremendous. The funny promos with unusual dialogues have made heads turn. Anushka's 'Dekho Magar Pyar Se' tattoo and 'Gulabi Bhains'  have also largely helped.

Music: Although Bhardwaj is known to be a talented music director, the songs of this movie haven't become known. But the reason for this is that the makers haven't used the music much to promote the movie. The title song is the only one which is famous and appreciated.

Prediction:

Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola will get a decent to good opening at the box office, although not excellent. Even if it gets a decent response, it will make the producers happy as it has good two weeks to earn. Since it is a rural film, it has a chance of earning even in smaller centers, provided it doesn't get initial negative response.

Picture Courtesy - MKBKM Facebook page

Picture Courtesy - MKBKM Facebook page